Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Eagle Creek 3/24/09

Since returning from Florida I have been so busy that I haven't had much time to get out and go birding - its been driving me crazy! Finally, today, after work I decided I couldn't take it anymore and had to go get a quick fix. I chose Eagle Creek in hopes that I would see some White Pelicans that had been hanging around lately.

Unfortunately, I didn't see the White Pelicans. However, the water did not disappoint. During my brief one hour visit I was able to see about a dozen Northern Shovelers, a dozen Green-winged Teal (one of my favorite birds), a Blue-winged Teal, about 12 Gadwalls, at least 6 Common Loons (gorgeous), a Pied-billed Grebe, and about 36 Red-breasted Mergansers which were the highlight of the visit! The males were all in bright breeding plumage and were putting one some terrific shows for the females.

Today brought my 2009 Indiana list to 74 species. 126 to go for 2009!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Merritt Island NWR - 23 Lifers!

Me... I have been back in Indiana now for three days from Merritt Island NWR and already I am anxious to go back!  The refuge (along with Cape Canaveral National Seashore) are absolutely beautiful!  More importantly, the entire Island is full of birds!  I am not sure that all birders get so excited over this area but being somewhat new to the birding scene - it was heaven on earth to me!  During the trip, I tallied a mere 58 species in three days, however, this was primarily composed of water birds or birds that I saw while observing the water.  Three days is not near enough time to bird this area - you would need at least 1 full week.  Of these 58 species, I gained 23 lifers!  That's right, 23 lifers!  This brings my world tally to 284 leaving me 216 more species to gain in 2009 to reach my goal of 500!  Ecuador is key to reaching this goal!!

Florida Scrub Jay... it is hard for me to say that I have a favorite bird since I love all birds (excluding Starlings and House Sparrows which for my kids sake I try to appreciate) but during this particular trip this is THE bird I wanted to see the most.  I was fortunate to see my first one at the Cape Canaveral National Seashore without any effort at all on my first evening in the area.  The next day I had no luck finding any and the third day I found a group of 4-5 along the Scrub Ridge Trail in the Merritt Island NWR.  They are awesome birds with cool personalities!

Savannah Sparrow... This was a super exciting bird for me since I have only a few Sparrows on my life list.  Many are hard to identify and in order to count any bird as a lifer I want to be darn certain it is what I think it is.  I was able to watch this species for a while and was able to get a solid identification after it was kind enough to give me a look at the yellow near the back of the beak.  A nice looking bird!

Tricolored Heron... This cool bird gave a good show while hunting for a meal.  This bird actually had a hunting method similar to a cat.  It moved very slow and low to the water toward its prey.
Little Blue Heron... How can anyone not appreciate this?

White Pelican... and friends...  I found this group of Pelicans while searching for Florida Scrub Jays and was happy for the find.  It was one of two birds I thought I was going to miss that I was certain I would see while on the trip.  The other was a Wood Stork which I never could find.

Roseatte Spoonbill... common but popular.  I saw these beauties on several occasions so my assumption is that they are fairly common but many birders I spoke with seemed to be very anxious to find them.  Wow. 

Black Skimmer... Another fun bird to watch.  I came across a group of about 100 of these birds and spent a good amount of time watching them hunt.  It was especially cool when the entire group would fly up at once and seem to hunt every inch of the water area they were in at the time.  They get their name from the way that they hunt that is they fly with their bill in the water "skimming" the top in hope of snagging a meal.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Greetings from Florida!

Merritt Island, NWR... Merritt Island, Florida! Heaven on Earth!
The last few days have been absolutely phenomenal. I have spent the last couple of days birding Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Cape Canaveral National Seashore and have been like a kid in a candy store! What a beautiful place... and the birds (especially shorebirds) are everywhere. The local birders say January is the best time to be here and the water is jammed pack with shorebirds during that time. I couldn't imagine it could be any better than the last two days so I am certain my heart wouldn't be able to take a birding visit in January - ha, ha! However, I do plan to give it a shot in the future. I have taken a ton of pictures and can't wait to sort through them over the next couple of days... Oh yeah, I got to see a rocket launch last night from the beach as well... WOW!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Spring is in the Air!

Common Grackle... Indianapolis, IN.  I took this picture last week.  It seems only yesterday that the Grackles were heading south and here they are again (well, 1 anyway).  Not sure if this one is coming or going but it was nice to see him.  I actually enjoy Grackles and have learned that they love peanuts in the shell!

By this time tomorrow I will have been in Orlando, FL for almost 10 hours!  Sadly, I won't be starting my trip off birding but will be spending most of the week attending meetings for work.  However, I have extended my trip for a couple of days and beginning this upcoming Thursday, I will be heading southward to the Merritt Island area in search of the Florida Scrub Jay and many other birds I have yet to see.  I just looked at the weather for Orlando and the extended forecast is showing Friday and Saturday to be sunny with a temperature around 80 degrees!  I can't wait!  Today, in Indianapolis, it was 31 degrees!

I am happy to report that I picked up a lifer today at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis - White-winged Scoter.  Another highlight was  a single Horned Grebe.  Snow Geese and Wilson's Snipe were also reported but I had no luck finding them.  My new World Life List is 261!

Indiana State Bird

Indiana State Bird
Northern Cardinal